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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Baking Bonanza!

Happy Wednesday! It's been a busy baking week for me, and I've got the pictures to show for it! Take a look:
Pecan streusel  banana cake

Cinnamon babka!

Box clockwise from left: babka, chocolate chip
cookies, and sables.
Not pictured: Lizzy Bee's famous brownies
Now let's talk babka! If you make it with a cinnamon shmear filling and a streusel topping, your home will smell just like cinnamon cake! (I'm salivating already.) Think of a babka like a yeasty coffee cake. This recipe takes a few hours to rise, but it'll be worth the time - trust me. 

"Better Than the Bakery's" Babka
Adapted from Marcy Goldman

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • pinch sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter - softened in small pieces
  • 6 cups (approx.) Hodgson Mill or Five Roses unbleached all-purpose flour or combination (or see notes above).

Chocolate, Cinnamon (below)

Egg Wash
l beaten egg
Sugar for sprinkling

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together water, yeast, and pinch of sugar.  Let stand about five minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve. Stir in eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, salt and milk powder. Fold in softened butter and flour. Mix dough, then knead as it becomes a mass (with a dough hook or by hand) for about 8 to 10 minutes - until smooth and elastic.
  2.  Place dough in a well greased bowl and place entire bowl in a plastic bag and seal. Allow to rise until puffy, about 45-90 minutes. (Can also be refrigerated overnight to resume next day, allowing dough to warm up a bit before proceeding). Divide dough in two equal parts. Cover with a tea towel and let rest ten minutes. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or generously grease two 9 inch springform or layer cake pans. If making one large bubka, generously butter a 10 inch tube pan.
  3.  On a lightly floured board, roll dough into a 16 by 16 inch square. Arrange or spread on filling of choice (below) all over dough surface. Roll up dough into a large jellyroll. Cut in half. Place both halves in prepared pan, beside each other - it doesn't matter if they are a little squished. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar. Place loaf pan in a  plastic bag and let rise until bubka is flush or over top of pan.
  4.  Repeat with other half of dough, using a different filling, if desired.
  5.  To use all of dough in one large bubka, procedure is the same but you will be using all of dough at once. Roll dough out into a 20 inch square (instead of 16 by 16) and proceed as above. A large bubka is especially dramatic but two smaller ones give you two flavor and assembly options.
  6.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 35-45 minutes (50-70 minutes for one large bubka) until bubka is medium brown. Cool pan fifteen minutes before removing to a rack or serving plate.

Chocolate Filling (baker's call this a 'smear")
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

Grind chocolate chips, cinnamon, cocoa, sugar, and butter in a food
processor to make a loose paste. You can also use a chopped up, imported
Swiss chocolate bar, semi-sweet or milk chocolate.

Cinnamon Smear:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2-4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts - optional

In a food processor, process the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon and
walnuts to make a loose paste. You can substitute maple syrup for corn syrup.

Happy baking!

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